Concluding an astonishingly productive decade which brought collaborations with Ras Kass, Planet Asia, Joell Ortiz, and countless others, beatmaker Apollo Brown penned a love letter to his home city with the expansive, masterful Sincerely, Detroit. The album's guest list includes what seems like practically the entire Detroit rap scene, or at least everyone within Mello Music Group's orbit, including Guilty Simpson, Boog Brown, Crown Nation (Quelle Chris and Denmark Vessey), and Chris Orrick. As with Brown's previous top-billed albums like The Reset and Grandeur, the producer has such a focused artistic vision that it's just as cohesive as his collaborations with a single MC, and it never feels like a case of too many cooks in the kitchen. Simply put, he knows exactly the right people to work with, and how to channel their energies into deeply inspired, powerful work. Brown's productions are heavy on vintage soul -- several tracks begin with a slow, weepy sample seemingly grabbed from a scratchy old 45 or a late-night radio broadcast. He then flips them into meticulously crafted beats, with some edits approaching microhouse-level precision, yet it never sounds cluttered or random, and there's always plenty of room for the emcees to shine. The lyrics, as to be expected, are all informed by the struggles of daily life, touching on pressing issues such as denial of medical care and the city's ever-growing gentrification, as well as the rappers' personal concerns, related to mental health or loss of loved ones. Still, even as some of it gets intensely soul-searching, there's no shortage of confidence on display, and highlights like the mighty Slum Village's "All Day" and "What Up" (featuring 87, One Be Lo, and A Minus) are absolutely triumphant. The album is a testament to the strength of Detroit's hip-hop scene, as well as Apollo Brown's brilliance.
Sincerely, Detroit Review
by Paul Simpson